Confusion at IEC as no voter registration dates set

IEC Headquarters
There is confusion at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on whether to use the revised Electoral Act, or the old one.

Already, there is a court case in which one of the opposition parties, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), is challenging the revised Act.

The confusion arises from uncertainty in which law will be used for the 2019 general election. The IEC starts its voter registration on September 3, 2018.

Some of the critical issues that the IEC is forced to deal with is whether supplementary registration will be there or not.

“We are not certain whether or not supplementary registration will be there because the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2016 is in place, but does not have a commencement date. The general voter registration starts onSeptember 3 and ends on November 11, 2018,” IEC spokesperson, Osupile Maroba said.

He explained that, “The commencement date is determined by the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration”.

However, Maroba said if the case continues beyond November, and the Act is given a commencement date, within the preparatory period leading to the 2019 general election, then it would mean that there would not be any supplementary registration.

The IEC spokesperson said if the Act is not given a commencement date, or the date is beyond October 2019, then there may be supplementary voter registration, if the commission finds it necessary.

The spokesperson said it is even difficult for them to tell whether the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) would be used or not looking at the commencement time.

He said the EVMs are not yet bought.

Maroba said it is difficult for them to plan for any supplementary voter registration because of

issues within the law.

The introduction of the EVMs was not welcomed by a majority of Batswana and the Bill was not debated in Parliament.  The country goes for its general election in October next year and if the case proceeds until January, then IEC would be left with less than 11 months to plan for elections.  The revised Electoral Act is the one, which includes paper trail, no supplementary registrations and use of electronic voting machines.

The case will go for trial on November 12, 13, 14 and 16 2018.  The BCP argues that EVMs are prone to manipulation and can be hacked in the favour of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) hence its abhorrence of the gadgets.

The BCP says that all sections of the Electoral (Amendment) Act No. 7 of 2016, which provide for the replacement of voting by Ballot Paper by EVMs be declared unconstitutional and in violation of Section 32 (3) (c) of the Constitution of Botswana, be set aside and struck out.

It is also of the view that Section 6 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act No.7 of 2016, which has deleted Section 8 of the Electoral Act thereby abolishing continuous and supplementary registration of voters is unconstitutional and violates Section 67 of the Constitution of Botswana to be set aside and struck out.

Any action, the BCP argues, done in pursuance or in execution or intended execution of the aforesaid provisions of the Electoral (Amendment) Act No.7 of 2016 be declared unlawful and set aside.




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